Sexual Abuse

Victims of Sexual Abuse

We understand that trauma from sexual abuse is not solved by any dollar amount. Injuries are long-lasting, affecting many areas of survivors’ lives. However, we will fight for the compensation you deserve to support you in your healing.

Our expert personal injury lawyers will look to make a difficult and painful process as simple as they possibly can. We strive to be respectful, discrete and, above all, ensure you are compensated for the difficulties you have had to face.

Our Experience

Sadly, abuse can occur in all institutions and organisations, such as places or worship and churches of all religious denominations, schools, places of employment and children’s homes. Abuse can occur to children and adults, male or female.

We have represented hundreds of survivors of many institutional sexual abuse crimes, including claims made by:

  • Victims who participated in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • State wards abused in religious institutions and homes, for example at St Vincent’s in South Melbourne, St Augustine’s in Geelong and Box Hill Boy’s Home.
  • Victims of paedophile priests;
  • Victims of paedophile teachers at both State-owned public schools and private schools;
  • Victims against individual perpetrators;

The following types of compensation can be included in claims:

  • Pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life damages;
  • Exemplary damages, for example if there has been gross negligence or outrageous conduct;
  • Damages for past and future lost earnings;
  • Damages for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

We have extensive experience in negotiating land-mark settlements for historical and recent abuse claims often resulting in multi-million dollar payouts. Read more about our experience here.

Church Ribbons

Removal of Time Limits

In 2015, the Victorian State Parliament made changes to the law to remove the 3 year time limit that had previously applied to sexual abuse claims. You can therefore make a claim, even if you suffered abuse decades ago.

Removal of the ‘Ellis Defence’

In 2018, further changes were made to the law in Victoria to prevent religious institutions using the ‘Ellis Defence’, a legal argument used by the Catholic Church to deny liability to pay compensation to victims of its paedophile priests. The defence was based on the principle that the Church did not legally exist and that its huge pool of assets was held by a property trust.

Previous Settlements

We are interested in speaking to you even if you have already received compensation from the institution, such as through the Catholic Church ‘Melbourne Response’ or ‘Towards Healing’. Find out how you could overturn these agreements to gain additional compensation.

Redress Scheme

In 2018, following the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the cap for compensation is however limited to $150,000. We strongly advise you to seek our free legal advice about your rights to civil litigation prior to making a Redress Scheme claim. The current cap for a civil claim in Victoria is far in excess of $1M. Find out what this scheme means for you and how you could maximise your compensation claim.

Our Fees – No Win No Fee

Our no win no fee model means that our services are only charged if we get you the results you are entitled to. This includes out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical reports and Court fees. We do not require you to sign up for a ‘litigation loan’ unlike many of our competitors.

Institutional Abuse Register

As a response to trauma, abuse survivors can often have suppressed memories of their ordeal. Through working with hundreds of institutional survivors we have a database of information such as offending institutions, offenders and dates that can help build your case.

Read More on the Institutional Abuse Register

Sexual Abuse FAQ

What if the assault happened a long time ago? 

Timeframes are no longer a barrier to pursue sexual abuse compensation.

If you have suffered abuse in an institution as a child or adult you may have suppressed it, felt shame or felt it may have been your fault. You may feel scared no one would believe you. Please feel assured our discreet and empathetic abuse lawyers are here to support you through this emotional time.

We understand it can take years to find the courage and strength to stand up and make an institutional abuse claim. We represent survivors whose abuse occurred decades ago and they have never opened up to anyone about it. The Government recognises that there is often a delay in survivors coming forward from childhood abuse trauma, so they recently removed the time limitations.

Can I get sexual abuse compensation if the abuser is deceased?

If your abuser is deceased, you still may have grounds for sexual abuse compensation. It is best to discuss this with an institutional abuse lawyer to see where you stand. By working with hundreds of survivors we have developed an International Abuse Register. The register holds key information on perpetrators, dates and institutions that could be linked to your claim. If you were a State Ward we may be able to obtain information through your historical records. Coming forward with an abuse claim could also help other victims by exposing repeat offenders.

How much sexual abuse compensation am I entitled to?

Entitlements are formed based on individual experiences. High-level abuse commands more compensation. We take into consideration your current and future pain and suffering as well as your loss of earnings.

Through a civil law case with Arnold Thomas & Becker, in some cases, we are able to secure ten times The National Redress Scheme maximum payout ($150,000). We can also obtain damages for physical, psychological and emotional instances. The National Redress Scheme only covers sexual abuse.

What if I previously signed a deed of release – am I entitled to more sexual abuse compensation? 

Deeds of release are now set aside. You can now pursue a fair amount, regardless of any previous payment you have received or legal agreements you may have made with an institution.

What if I don’t have proof?

In many circumstances, there will be no proof of abuse. A written record is unlikely to exist given most institutional abuse is swept under the carpet. The court process allows us to obtain evidence to build your case. In some circumstances, only your testimony is all that is needed.  Our Institutional Abuse Register may assist in providing evidence for your institutional abuse claim.

Does physical instances classify as abuse?

Yes. On discussing your circumstances, we make a judgement call on what your situation is classed as and whether it is legitimate corporal punishment.  Normally there is merit to classing it as physical abuse and making a claim.

How long will it take?

The length of a case can vary from one to another. In some circumstances, it can take years and in others, months. It all depends on the individual circumstances. Sometimes we conduct deeper investigations to maximise your outcome, this may take longer.  If there is an urgent need to expedite a claim based on a clients’ age or health, we can fast track the process to under 12 months. When considering the length of a case there are many circumstances beyond our control including the courts and the defendants.

What can I make a claim for?

Sexual abuse compensation can cover flashing, indecent exposure, fondling, touching, rape, sodomy and penetration. Physical, emotional and physiological assault could also be compensated for in most cases.